Posted by C on June 22, 2003 at 08:48:15:


By C

Once upon a time, in the tiny village of Schmetterlink, there lived a poor but honest little tailor named Gottfried. He dwelt and worked in a one-room house on the edge of the village. He labored hard from sunrise to sunset, and yet he had barely enough to survive. Thus he was very upset to learn one day that someone, or some thing, was pilfering his meager stores of food. He had gone into his larder early in the morning to fix his usual breakfast of stale bread and salted meat, and he saw that both his bread and meat were almost gone! Impossible! he thought; he had just replenished those supplies the day before. He checked a barrel in which he kept peas, and discovered to his horror that it, too, was nearly empty. What to do? If theft of this magnitude continued, he might soon starve.

He was wringing his hands over this development, when he heard a pitter-patter, just above his head. He looked up in time to see something with bright, bright green wings, rather like a butterfly’s, dart quickly from rafter to rafter. Apparently it realized that he had seen it, for it then shot out through the nearest window. If it was a butterfly, it was the biggest in creation—about a foot long, with a wingspan of at least two feet.

“Not a butterfly!” said Gottfried aloud. “That’s a Blazing Tanaquil!” The startlingly green wings gave the creature away. Gottfried’s mother had been a wisewoman; she knew fairies well, and she had taught her son much fairy lore. Well-trained as he was, he knew that the mystery of his missing stores was solved. Tanaquils were exceedingly greedy and malicious fays: a flock of them would descend on a household and strip it of provender in days, or even hours. He had to act quickly, or he was lost.

Gathering together a small amount of money that he had saved against just such an emergency as this, he went out and purchased new food, as well as several herbs well known to his mother. Then he came back to his house, put the supplies in plain view, and spent the rest of the day on his sewing. When at last his tailoring was done for that day, he chopped up everything he had bought—sausage, peas, celery, carrots and other vegetables, plus the special herbs—then put it all in a cauldron with some water. He then got a good fire going in his fireplace and hung the cauldron over the fire. Soon the fragrance of sausage soup filled the little house.

When the soup was done, he took the cauldron off the fire and fixed himself a nice big bowl. He then went to his larder and filled his drinking cup with ale. The fairies had gotten to the ale, too, but enough was left to make him good and drunk if he consumed it all. Perfect! he thought. He ate two bowls of soup, and chased it down with plenty of liquor. Then, feeling quite fine indeed, he got unsteadily up and staggered off to his humble cot. He left the cauldron, still half-full of soup, out on his table. If the fairies were watching (and he hoped they were), they would very likely assume that drunkenness had made him negligent, and that’s why he’d left this wonderful meal out in the open.

He was awakened in the middle of the night by the wailing of many shrill little voices. He got unsteadily to his feet, then lit a candle and made his way over to his table. There, beside the bowl, lay three Blazing Tanaquils, trembling and clutching their tummies or groins. On the floor in front of the table lay two more in the same condition. He searched his house from top to bottom and found another five, all likewise brought low by the herbs (poisonous to their species) that they had greedily consumed.

He cleared the table, then lined up his ten little victims on it. Each was about a foot long, with wings of phosphorescent green that fluttered uselessly. Aside from their wings, they were human in form, both female and male, with perfectly shaped little bodies and beautiful faces. The hair on their heads and groins was bright red. They wore green shirts (sleeveless for the five girls) and green, knee-length boots, but nothing else. All were crying profusely and violently trembling, and they kicked out hard from time to time with their feet. The whole time, they held on tight to their nether regions. The five boys had what must have been painfully stiff erections.

“So,” said the tailor. “Look where your avarice has gotten you.”

“Y-yes, good master,” said one of the girls, whose hair was especially curly. “Your
p-poison has reached our . . . our organs of generation. We can’t . . . last much longer.”

The little tailor wasn’t a cruel man, so he asked: “Is there . . . anything I can do for the pain?”

“Not . . . for the pain . . . nor for the . . . pleasure. Ohhhhh!” (And here she kicked frantically several times). “It just has to . . . run its course!”

“Well, I’ll wait here until it does,” he said.

“Of . . . of course,” said the fairy. And she kicked a few more times, for good measure.

The better part of an hour went by before the tailor noticed something. The fairies shook, and kicked, and moaned, and cried out—but so far, no one had come. The poison was supposed to induce killing orgasms in its victims. The boys should have spouted plenty of blood-tinged cream by now. Fairy girls ejaculated, too, though not as ostentatiously. These ladies should each have produced some honey-scented droplets. Instead, there was nothing.

“Shouldn’t you, uh, be dying by now?” said Gottfried.

“It’s a slow . . . p-painful process,” said the curly-haired girl. She then drew her legs sharply back and groaned. Five other fairies did exactly the same thing. “I’m sure, oh clever captor, that when you c-come . . . come back in the morning, you’ll find us all well and t-truly dead. Owww . . . this really hurts!”

“Hurts . . . . Hurts . . . .” echoed several of the others.

“Maybe you’re right,” said Gottfried, but he thought something else entirely: Damn! I didn’t make it strong enough! The fairies surely knew this, and they were putting on a show. Either they’d eventually play dead, so that he’d toss their bodies out, or they’d wait for him to go to sleep. In either case, when they’d fully recovered, they would exact an unpleasant revenge.

He yawned and walked away, in the direction of his cot. But instead of lying down, he went to where he kept the remaining herbs. He got them out and put them in a bowl with a little water. Then he took his sharpest needle and dipped it in the mixture. He made sure the point was liberally coated with poison. Then, armed with bowl and needle, he went back to the table.

“Wh-what are you doing?” said the fairy girl.

“Making sure of things,” said Gottfried. As he spoke, he took firm hold of her midriff with his left hand and used his right to jab her mons veneris with the needle. Once, twice, three times he thrust it home. She screamed each time—shrill little ribbons of despair—and began to kick in earnest. Seeing what was happening, her companions started carrying on as well. “No! Oh please no!” some cried. Others just wailed and wept.

Gottfried coated his needle once again, then shoved it into a boy fay’s pouch. The boy screamed, as shrilly as the girl. Two more jabs, and he spouted. His cream was good and bloody—something that couldn’t be faked. Treating the needle each time with fresh poison, Gottfried went from fairy to fairy. Their cries, their violent trembling, their explosive coming—all of it was incontestably real.

In a lull between tremors, the curly-haired girl looked up at him. Her face was red, swollen, and streaked with tears. Her body shook from the crown of her head to the tips of her pretty green boots. Her thighs glistened with fairy honey. With obvious difficulty, she spoke again: “Y-you’ve really . . . really killed us!”

“It looks that way, Miss,” said the tailor.

“Since I really am . . . d-dying now, I have . . . prophetic power. I foresee it: y-you’ll be a mighty fairy hunter. You’ll stalk the . . . b-biggest of fays, and you’ll . . . make them
. . . cry bitter tears . . . just like me! Just like me! Yes . . . you’ll do to them . . . what you’ve done to me!” And with these words, she redoubled her weeping.

Gottfried smiled. “A wicked little missy like you is one thing; but how could a humble tailor like me bring some giant fay to tears?” Rather than answer, the fairy just cried, and kicked, and came, until life deserted her. Her companions did the same. When they were all finished, their bodies lay there for a few minutes, then suddenly collapsed in little heaps of white powder.

“Wow . . . .” said Gottfried. “Ten at one blow! Or was it maybe two blows? Or should I count up all the times I stuck ‘em?” Soon he had an idea. He went and got some of his finest blue cloth and made it into a sash. Then, with white thread, he embroidered these words on the cloth: “Ten Fays with Two or So Blows.” He would wear the sash from now on in proud commemoration of his fairy-killing feat.

He lay down on the cot and started to think things over. It was all well and good to kill wicked fairies, but fairies are a vengeful lot. Perhaps these had some relatives who’d be only too happy to come after him. And, truth to tell, Gottfried was sick of being a tailor. He’d heard that a local rich man was buying up cottages in the village, so the very next day he went to the man and received what, for him, was a princely sum for his house. Then he gathered up his most needful belongings, put them in a knapsack, and set out. The sash adorned his right shoulder.

Once, as a child, he had visited the big town of Tonner-unter-Donckendorpf, about twenty miles to the north. This might be a good place to start a new life, so he strode briskly up the north/south road.

When he arrived at Tonner, he was surprised and dismayed to see that the once busy and crowded town seemed almost deserted. Just a few people wandered aimlessly through the streets. The houses and shops, all looking very sad and shabby, were boarded up. “What happened?” he said out loud.

A thin, elderly man in tattered clothing, who had been leaning against a nearby shop, now spoke. “New in town?”

“Uh, yes,” said Gottfried.

“You must have come from the south.”

“Yes, from Schmetterlink. How did you know?”

“Because if you’d come from the north, you’d know very well what’s wrong . . . or you’d be dead.”

“I’m afraid I’m not following your meaning, Herr . . . .”

“Flugenberg. Joachim von Stuppfest-gegen-Flugenberg. But Flugenberg will do.”

“That’s good to know,” said Gottfried. “I’m Gottfried the tailor.”

“Good to meet you,” said the old man as he shook Gottfried’s hand. “I’m the Mayor of this fine city, by the way.”

“Oh my,” said Gottfried, and bowed awkwardly.

“None of that, my dear boy,” said Flugenberg. “You can see what being Mayor of Tonner is worth by looking around.”

“Yes, I’ve noticed. What happened?”

“Oh, I was going to explain, wasn’t I? It’s like this: Tonner-unter-Donckendorpf was once a very prosperous town, thanks to trade with the Imperial Capital up north. Every day, the road between Kaiserstadt and here was crowded with merchants. We were, in our modest way, rich.” The old man sighed and then looked down.

“And . . . ?” said Gottfried.

“Sorry,” said Herr Flugenberg, “but it’s painful even to think about it. One day, almost a year ago, two giantesses set up house on the road to Kaiserstadt. They demanded a ruinous toll of everyone who came along the road: whatever goods or money the poor souls had. And they killed all who resisted. We sent out the town militia, but only one survivor returned. A few messengers have gone to the capital for help, but the news from the Emperor has been most discouraging. It appears these wicked creatures are just about unstoppable, and the Imperial Troops have taken a savage mauling the few times they’ve challenged them. So now the Emperor just stands by as these vicious females wander through his realm and destroy the commerce of one town after another. We’re dying. This will soon be a ghost town.”

“That’s . . . that’s dreadful!” said Gottfried. “Well, perhaps I’d better be on my
way . . . .”

“Say, what’s that on your sash?” said Mayor Flugenberg.

“Oh nothing; just a . . . .”

“’Ten Fays with Two or So Blows?’ You’re not only a tailor, you’re a fay hunter!”

“Well,” said Gottfried, “I had a good day once, but I wouldn’t say I’m a . . . .”

The old man ran into the middle of the street and began to shout: “Citizens of Tonner, come out, come out, wherever you are!”

And they came, dozens of them, their bodies undernourished, their clothes ragged. They stared at Gottfried with an expectant, almost dazed look in their eyes. Not knowing what else to do, he kept silent.

“Citizens, citizens!” cried the Mayor. “Let me make an announcement: this young man is a fay hunter! He can deliver us from the evil that besets our fair city!”

“Well,” said Gottfried, “it’s very generous of your Mayor to say that, but the fays I killed were just . . . .”

“Hurray! Hurray!” shouted the people. “You can save us! Hurray!”

“But folks, I mean . . . you need to understand . . . .” And then Gottfried remembered the fairy’s prophecy. Perhaps it was true after all. Perhaps this was the new life he hoped for. Gottfried the Fay Hunter! And why not? He raised his hands to the crowd and said: “Citizens of Tonner! I’ll do the best I can!”

“Hurray! Hurray!” they answered.

The next morning, the Mayor and several other townspeople escorted Gottfried to the militia headquarters. They were able to scrounge up a wagon with two horses, some pikes and swords, and a steel helmet and breastplate that more or less fit their savior-to-be.

When they were back outside, the Mayor spoke to Gottfried: “Do you, uh, have a plan, Fay Hunter?”

“Yes I do,” said Gottfried. He had thought it up the night before; now he would see how workable it was. “I have a list of special herbs here; are they all available in this locality?”

The Mayor scrutinized the list. “I believe so,” he said.

“Great,” said Gottfried. “I need your people to go out and scour the countryside for every one of these plants, as many as they can gather. Also, I need to know: do you have any stores of wine?”

“In my basement,” said the Mayor, lowering his voice now, “I have two big barrels of twenty-year old Plotznian, the best wine to be found in the Empire. I hope you’ll understand that I haven’t widely announced this fact . . . .”

“I understand fully,” said Gottfried, “but I need both barrels, and every drop in them.”

The Mayor looked a little stricken, but he agreed to have the wine brought posthaste. Then everyone, including Gottfried and the Mayor, went out into the fields and woods and brought back huge quantities of the necessary herbs. Gottfried chopped up and mixed everything in what he thought were the right quantities. Then he pried the tops off the wine barrels and poured his mixture into each. The herbs would dissolve completely in the wine, but would they leave a tell-tale flavor? He scooped up some with a cup and tasted it. It was delicious, better than the best beer he’d ever drunk. He resealed the barrels, and then he and some of the stronger townsfolk manhandled them into the back of the wagon. Next he put on his armor and clapped a sword and swordbelt at his side. Finally, he gathered up some additional weaponry (including two pikes), and also a lot of rope, and tossed everything into the wagon, alongside the barrels. “Well, I think I’m ready,” he said.

“So you are,” said the Mayor. “God speed, Fay Hunter.”

“Hurray! Hurray!” shouted the townsfolk.

Gottfried climbed into the wagon and shook the reins. The two horses whinnied with obvious irritation, but they put their backs into it, and soon they were taking him north, towards the Capital.

About five miles out, the highway ran through what had once been well-tended fields, now rank with wild growth. To the right, fifty or so yards ahead, was an especially dense thicket of bushes, saplings, and wild grasses. Gottfried had struggled to prepare himself for the encounter he knew was coming; nonetheless, he let out a gasp and started to tremble when two great figures rose up from the thicket and strode onto the road. They turned to face him and stood side by side, blocking his way quite effectively. They were at least twenty feet tall--beautiful, full-breasted women with blood-red hair falling to their waists. Each wore a low-cut, sleeveless halter-top of bright green, as well as knee-length high-heeled boots, apparently of some kind of snakeskin. The boots were more yellow than anything else, but had glints of red, and gold, and orange, too. Aside from their tops and footwear, the women were naked, each sporting a bright red semi-diamond on her groin. They stood with their hands on their hips--a jaunty posture, which matched their proud, disdainful expressions. But they kept their legs together, and so managed to look demure, even vulnerable, at the same time. They are vulnerable, Gottfried thought. The way to their destruction lies between their legs, and they know it! They’re just like the Tanaquils, only bigger. Still, unlike the Tanaquils, they could crush him to jelly, and so he continued to tremble. He had to squelch the impulse to turn his wagon around and flee; for he knew that if he did, they would just run him down and kill him for having dared to annoy them.

Struggling to keep himself under control, he came within twenty feet of the two women. The wind was blowing towards him, and he now picked up the scent of their pussies from the air: a strange but pleasing amalgam of flower nectar and vinegar. He could see a gleam of moisture where each mons veneris was slitted. Had he interrupted their lovemaking? And if he had, would that fact alone doom him? Oddly, as frightened as he was, what he saw and smelled gave him an instant, painful erection.

“That’s far enough!” said the giantess on his right. So he pulled back on the reins and brought the wagon to a halt. “There hasn’t been anyone up this road in the longest time,” said the giantess on the left. “We were pretty sure that Tonner-unter-Donckendorpf had breathed its last. We were going to head out for, ah, greener pastures later today, but maybe we were being too hasty.”

“I’m, uh, I’m not from Tonner,” said Gottfried, trying to keep the tremor out of his voice. “I’m from . . . uh, Speck-am-Ellbogen, to the south. I came through Tonner, and it seemed completely deserted. I had no time to investigate the reason, though. I have a cargo here that’s bound for the Palace in Kaiserstadt, and I may wind up in the Palace dungeon if I don’t get it there by tonight!”

“Oh?” said the giantess on the right. “And why’s that?”

“It’s two barrels of the finest Plotznian wine. The Emperor craves it for his table, and if he doesn’t have it by tomorrow morning at the very latest, I might as well try my luck in someone else’s empire.”

“You poor thing,” said the left-hand giantess, and she covered the distance between her and him in two steps. She bent down to inspect the barrels, and Gottfried got a fuller whiff of her girl-scent. If he stiffened up any more, he was going to put a hole in his pants. He had to admit it: she was breathtaking, with the brightest of green eyes (her eyelids were green, too!), full, blood-red lips, and straight white teeth (her canines were just a bit sharper than the human norm).

“May I know to whom I’m speaking . . . Miss?” he said.

“Sure. I’m Echidna, and my sister is Tiamat.” And with these words, she pried the lid off a barrel with one hand.

“Uh, Miss? As I said before . . . .”

Echidna ignored him and spoke to her sister: “What do you think, dear?”

“I don’t know. Could be a trap of some kind. You say you’re not from Tonner, little man?”

“That’s right. Now if I could just be on my way . . . .”

“Shut up until we tell you to speak, and you may just have a chance,” said Tiamat. Gottfried gulped.

“What if it’s poison?” said Echidna.

“Well, there’s one way to test it,” said Tiamat, who then came up to the wagon beside Echidna and pried the lid off the other barrel. (In appearance and scent, she closely resembled her sister, but her eyes and eyelids were violet.) “Do you have a cup, little man?”

“Um, yes,” said Gottfried.

“I want you to take a nice big draft from each barrel. Any problem with doing that?”

“No! I mean, not at all.”

“Good. Do it.”

So Gottfried filled his cup from one barrel and drank the contents down. As before, he could detect no strange under- or after-taste. He went to the second container and did the same with it.

The two big fays waited for him to go into convulsions. When, after several minutes, he did not, Tiamat said: “I think we’re okay.”

“Yes,” said Echidna. “I think so, too.” Each woman then reached down and scooped up a barrel. They had to use both hands, but otherwise it seemed to cost them no effort at all. They put the barrels to their lips and tilted them back. Then they chugged down one gallon after another of fine liquor.

Gottfried was astonished at their greed. Could they possibly empty everything in a single go? He then realized that it was time to escape if he could. He climbed quietly down from the wagon, then ran for all he was worth into the overgrown field to the west. The fays didn’t seem to notice—so intent were they on filling their pretty tummies with wine. He crawled under a thick cover of weeds, where he planned to wait until the poison began its work.

What did he expect to hear? Screams, wailing, sobs, a string of despairing curses perhaps. Anything but what actually greeted his ears within half an hour: the sounds of lovemaking! It started out quietly, with a gasp here, a whimper there, and at first Gottfried thought the poison must be doing its job. But the sounds got louder, and louder, and louder, and took on a pronounced, pounding rhythm that at last left him in no doubt. Soon he was hearing this:

“Ah! Oh! Oooo! Unnhhh! Yes, yes, oh fuck, yes! Do my pussy . . . do it, do it, do it! Oh fuck yes, do it! Fuck you, you bad bitch, do it! Oh, ahhhh, give it to me! Give it to me!”

As quietly as he could, he crept to the field’s edge and peeked out from the weeds. There they were, lying in the middle of the road, each furiously tonguing the other’s twat. They would remove their mouths just long enough to let loose an “Oh fuck, yes!” or a “Give it to me!” and then it was back to the most frantic cunnilingus Gottfried had ever seen.

What had gone wrong? No big mystery there: either he had once again mixed up too weak a batch, or they hadn’t downed enough of it. It was stimulating their genitals, but it hadn’t brought on the pussy-rending spasms that would turn their toes up for good. “Damn, damn, damn,” he said under his breath. “What now?” Frustrated, angry, and afraid, he hid there in the weeds while the fays continued rutting.

It must have been an hour or more, but at last the sounds of passion died away, to be replaced by loud snores. Gottfried was half-asleep himself, but the snoring brought him back with a start. He looked out, and sure enough, there were Echidna and Tiamat, sprawled next to each other on their backs, sawing wood for all they were worth.
Could they have prepared a trick for him? Perhaps, but he had to see this through to the end. As quietly as he could, he emerged onto the road. First he went over to where the fays had put down the two barrels. A quick look inside confirmed what he suspected: the girls had left almost half the liquor. If they had just downed a little more, the plan might have worked. He then walked over to the wagon and made sure that it and the horses were unharmed. As he was inspecting the wagon, he saw the two pikes he had stashed there before he set out, and he got an idea. Might not a pike do for a giantess what a needle had for the Tanaquils?

He picked up the pikes and balanced one in each hand. It only now occurred to him just how heavy they were. He hoped his muscles would prove equal to the task. At least the points were nice and sharp. Brandishing his weapons very inexpertly, he walked over to the nearest wine barrel and dunked the business end of each in the poisoned liquor.

Then he tiptoed up to the sleeping fays. They lay side by side, still snoring, their bosoms gently rising and settling. The girls were separated by about two feet of space. Gottfried entered that narrow zone and moved, very slowly and quietly, past their feet. (Their scent was stronger than ever; in response, he again became painfully erect.) His plan was to position himself just a little south of their groins, and then bring the pikes down as hard as he could in the vicinity of each puss. If only the shafts weren’t so heavy! Gottfried was not a robust man, and had not been brought up in the hard life of a soldier. He was beginning to weave and wobble, and his hands were now slick with sweat. He wasn’t sure he’d make it. He passed the girls’ knees, picked up his pace, and then tripped on a stone.

He fell forward and landed on his face. Quite by luck, momentum carried each pike right into a pretty fay belly, some inches past the groin. The girls screamed, then clawed at the pikes with their hands. Gottfried staggered to his feet and dashed away, so as not to be crushed. When he thought he’d reached a safe distance, he looked behind him and saw that the poison was at last having an effect: his victims were too weakened by it to pull the pikes loose. They just gripped them with their hands, kicked spasmodically, and whimpered, groaned, and wept. Mostly they wept, the tears streaming down their lovely, agonized faces.

“Bitter tears!” Gottfried shouted. “I’ve made them cry bitter tears! The prophecy was true!” He was elated, but he couldn’t lose sight of the business at hand. Had the poison taken them past their tipping point, or was there more to do?

Cautiously, he walked back toward the stricken fays. Still weeping, Echidna cast a hateful glance at him. “It was . . . foretold to us,” she said. “We’d be vanquished . . . by a mighty h-hunter! We expected a strong man . . . maybe even a giant like us . . . . We thought that, when he came for us, we could . . . convince him to spare us . . . m-make us his wives! But you . . . a little creep like you! H-how can it be? How can it be?”

“D-don’t insult him, Sis,” said Tiamat. “So he’s the one. Well, what of it? L-look at us, little hunter. Aren’t we . . . aren’t we beautiful? Couldn’t we . . . be of some service to you?”

“You surely are beautiful,” said Gottfried. “But before this goes much further, I think I need to be blunt. What could I possibly do with a pair of giant wives galumphing about? I mean: along with all the other risks of consorting with fays, you might just step on me one day. And I’ve a feeling that, given your size, you’d find me a less than satisfactory lover, so the day of reckoning would probably be sooner, rather than later. No, ladies, there’s no point in going down that road. You need to concentrate on your kicking and crying, because it’s over.”

“It’s . . . over?” said Echidna.

“Yes” said Gottfried. “Definitely over.”

“We’re . . . finished?” said Tiamat.

“Finished as finished can be.”

Knowing that he spoke the truth, they began to follow his advice, sobbing profusely and kicking out with their shapely legs, as if they could banish the hurt that way. Surely, thought Gottfried, their death orgasms must be minutes off. But the minutes passed, and for all their carrying on, they didn’t come. Instead, the tears and kickiness slowly subsided, and they once again fell asleep.

What had gone wrong? If they didn’t come soon, the poison would surely wear off. Gottfried didn’t want to think about that. He wracked his brain for a while, and then a new idea came to him. He went up to the unconscious girls and, with some straining and gasping, pulled out the pikes. Neither fay stirred. He needed to take advantage of this deep sleep while he could, so he took his weapons back to the nearest barrel and coated their tips with poison once again. Then he returned to where his victims lay. He put one pike down and held the other with both hands. Echidna was nearest, so he started with her. Gripping the pike as tightly as he could, he slipped it into her cunt, then leaned on it to force it in as far as it could go. Echidna shrieked and drew her legs sharply back, knocking Gottfried to the ground. As soon as he recovered, he picked up the other shaft and went to Tiamat. Awakened by her sister’s cries, she knew what was coming. “No! Oh God, God, no!” she screamed, and drew her legs back as well. Since she couldn’t raise her hands to cover her groin, she just gave him an easier target. He rammed the pike home for all he was worth. Tiamat shrieked as loudly as her sister had, and her legs shot forward. Luckily, he was crouching down when she did, so instead of being kicked to death, he was merely pinned to the ground for several seconds before he could crawl free.

The fays resumed their desperate kicking; only this time, their pussies spurted gout after gout of blood-suffused honey. “Ohhhh!” cried Echidna, “Oh! Oh! Oh! You can’t doubt it now, you cruel man! We’re dying . . . I swear we’re dying . . . . P-please don’t hurt us any more!”

“Please!” added Tiamat. “Please . . . .”

“I’m not cruel,” said Gottfried, “but I don’t flinch from a job that needs doing. I promise: I won't hurt you any more.” And he was as good as his word. Another thought came to him, at which he felt some trepidation, but curiosity won out, and so he asked: “Can you . . . can you prophesy now?”

“Y-yes,” said Tiamat. “Not . . . as to your ultimate fate, you’ll be . . . happy to hear. But if you’re wondering: are we the last . . . who’ll meet you and cry bitterly . . . because we met you . . . be assured we’re not!”

“Thank you,” said Gottfried.

He waited now for the end. It was nearly an hour of breasts heaving, and hands clenching convulsively, and snakeskin boots churning up the dirt, and sobs, and unstinting tears, but at last the girls were still.

When it was over, Gottfried gathered up all the rope he’d brought and, with much cursing and sweating, used it to tie the dead fays securely to the back of the wagon. Then he got the horses moving. They complained audibly about the added weight, but they pulled it along just the same. And thus he returned with his catch to Tonner.

When they saw that Gottfried was victorious, the Mayor and other townspeople cheered, and they wined and the dined the brave little tailor for the next several days. Herr Flugenberg offered him an official post, but after some thought, he turned it down--politely of course. Tonner was still a dreary, shabby place, and neither the Mayor nor anyone else had a pretty daughter to offer him in marriage. He decided to move on, and see what kind of success he’d have as an itinerant fay hunter. He revised the motto on his blue sash, so that it now read: “Twelve Fays, with a Good Deal of Work.” That sash, and that motto, would soon be famous.